This might be one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen yet in recent vitamin D research. As you know, we’re always interested in research that gets into the nitty gritty details of how vitamin D works. The study we’re reporting on in this article represents the first study to find out what the broad genetic response is to vitamin D across the entire human genome. The results were something to really get excited about.
First of all, this was a rigorous experiment designed to the highest levels. The only problem with it was the small number of subjects, which was only 8. So we have to say at the outset that this is an exploratory study that will have to be confirmed by studies that involve large numbers of study participants.
What they found was that supplementing vitamin D3 that resulted in any increase in the blood-serum levels was associated with at least a 1.5-fold alteration in the expression of 291 different genes. That’s a pretty astounding and far-reaching effect. But first, they did notice that there were in particular 66 genes that expressed differently between people whose vitamin D levels were below 20 ng/ml and those whose levels were above that, but after supplementation, the expression of those genes became similar. Seventeen of these genes, such as TRIM27, CD83, COPB2, YRNA and CETN3, have been shown to be important for transcriptional regulation, immune function, response to stress and DNA repair.
What is also very interesting is that it turned out that the starting point of vitamin D levels really didn’t matter, so whether you’re at 10 ng/ml or 40 ng/ml, improving your level of vitamin D improves the expression of these helpful genes. As the study notes, these are genes that are linked to cancer, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease, which makes these finding highly important because it’s the beginning tracking down what the study calls the “…molecular finger prints that help explain the non-skeletal health benefits of vitamin D.”
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